Thursday, December 22, 2011

Govt sticks to its Lokpal agenda, CBI out, PM in with safeguards (Indian Express)

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The government has dropped the term 'minorities' from the new Lokpal Bill with regard to 50 per cent quota in the Lokpal bench and the Search Committee while
opting against splitting the CBI's prosecution and investigation wings.
In the revised 64-page Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011, it is proposed that 50 per cent of members of Lokpal and Lokayuktas shall be from among SC, ST, OBC and women but skipped any mention of minorities.
Similar reservation is being provided in the Search Committee of the Lokpal.
In the Bill circulated today to MPs, it has been proposed that the CBI director will be selected by a three-member committee comprising the Prime Minister, Leader of the
Opposition in Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court Judge nominated by him.
The changes in the appointment process will be made by amending the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, according to the Bill which has kept CBI out of the Lokpal's full control.

However, Lokpal will have provision for superintendence over CBI in corruption cases referred by it to the investigation agency.
The Lokpal brings Prime Minister under its purview with certain safeguards like excluding issues relating to international relations, external and internal security, public order, atomic energy and space.
The Chairperson and members of the Lokpal will be selected by a committee comprising the Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, the Chief Justice of India and an eminent jurist nominated by the President of India.
In the case of Lokayuktas, the selection committee will have the Chief Minister, Speaker of assembly, Leader of Opposition, Chief Justice or Judge of the High Court and an eminent jurist nominated by the Governor.
The Bill seeks to establish a more effective mechanism to receive complaints relating to allegations of corruption against public servants including ministers, MPs, Chief Ministers, members of legislative assemblies and to inquire into them and take follow-up action.
The Lokpal and the Lokayuktas will have a constitutional status for which government has come up with a separate constitutional (116th amendment) Bill.
Both the Lokpal and Lokayuktas will consist of a Chairperson and a maximum of eight members, of which 50 per cent will be judicial members.
It has been made clear in the Bill that no prior sanction will be required for launching prosecution in cases inquired by Lokpal and Lokayuktas or initiated on the direction and with their approval.
Similarly, no prior approval is required for conducting investigation by CBI in cases entrusted by Lokpal.
Inclusion of all categories of employees has been made under Lokpal and Lokayuktas which will receive complaints against Group A, B, C and D government employees.
While in respect of Group A and B officers, complaints referred by the Lokpal to the CVC will be sent back to the ombudsman after the preliminary inquiry, in respect of Group C and D employees, the CVC will take action on its own.
The Bill provides for setting up an Inquiry Wing of Lokpal and Lokayuktas for conducting the preliminary inquiry and also an independent Prosecution Wing for the ombudsman.
A three-member bench will consider the inquiry report and may decide to recommend investigation, initiate disciplinary proceedings or close the case.
In the case of complaints against the Prime Minister, the bill has said that any decision of the Lokpal to initiate preliminarty inquiry or investigation against him shall be taken only by the Full Bench of the Lokpal with a majority of three-fourth and that such procedings be held in camera (secret).
Special courts will be constituted by the Centre as recommended by the Lokpal to decide corruption cases.
The Bill brings under the jurisdiction of Lokpal and Lokayuktas entities or institutions receving donations from foreign source in excess of Rs 10 lakh per year.

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